Saturday, November 28, 2009

Praying for myself

The past month my church community group has been talking about prayer. Last week's topic was on intercessory prayer or simply praying for other people. One of the comments during the discussion was how hard it was to pray for others since most of our prayers are focused on our self. After this was said, most people nodded in agreement but I felt distinctly at odds with that statement. For me, it is much easier to pray for other people than to pray for myself. In fact, 95 percent of my prayer time is going down my list of people to pray for. I would much rather for someone Else's needs than my own.

At first, I thought that praying for others instead of myself was sort of a badge of spiritual maturity. I am putting other peoples needs ahead of my own. But upon further review, there is conclusive evidence that my prayer life is just a deeper reflection of how I treat all my relationships. When I am talking to someone, I would much rather listen to their ideas or problems than talk about my own. If they don't want to share themselves, then I focus the conversation on talking about other people we know. Basically, anything to avoid having to talk about myself. In fact, the only way I generally reveal things about myself is if I am asked specific direct questions. I started this approach years ago under the guise that it made me less selfish but in reality I simply prefer my privacy. A great irony is that I often times will use the very public means of blogging to provide a small glimpse into my life and this is one of those occasions.

As you might expect, this lack of self revelation has been a hold up in many of my relationships. This would explain why several of my romantic endeavors have failed. And this hesitancy towards intimacy is a hurdle I am trying to jump over with Erin. I am making improvements but it still remains a potential barrier between her and I.

Unfortunately, this same pattern is now spilling over into my prayer life and my relationship with God. I would much rather read about him in the bible or talk to him about others than talk to him about myself. This revelation is quite startling and explanatory. No wonder my relationship with God is stale and impersonal considering I don't like sharing too much about myself with him. It scares me too think of why I would be so cautious with a God who unconditionally loves me.

This Christmas seems like a good time to become more intimate with God. I am not going to ask him to reveal himself to me but instead my goal is to trust him more and more as I reveal more and more of myself to him.



I wonder if the ease of praying for others is a manifestation of the thoughts that the self isn't important due to how a person has been treated in the past. Whether there is some misplaced guilt, or someone put misplaced blame. Or the complete undervalue placed on self.

raquel said...

This makes me think of "love your neighbor as yourself." So often we get caught up in loving our neighbor, but if we don't love ourselves first, it really won't work. Do you love yourself enough to want to lift yourself before the throne of grace?

Duke said...

great thought Jeff. thanks for sharing.

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